Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Super boats ready for Clearwater Super Boat Offshore National Championship and Festival

Marc Granet, driver of Miss Geico, takes journalists on a spin into the gulf Thursday morning in his team’s smaller cigarette boat, Caveman.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Marc Granet, driver of Miss Geico, takes journalists on a spin into the gulf Thursday morning in his team’s smaller cigarette boat, Caveman.

CLEARWATER — Tanned, relaxed and looking like a NASCAR driver in his neon racing suit, Marc Granet powered up a 38-foot, 1,050-horsepower cigarette boat called Caveman and eased away from the dock behind the Island Way Grill.

He cranked up the stereo, blasted AC/DC's Hells Bells and asked a bunch of pumped-up reporters itching for a thrill, "You all right?''

"Yeah!'' they yelled over the wind Thursday during a ride to promote today's inaugural Clearwater Super Boat Offshore National Championship and Festival.

After one TV journalist asked for and received a life vest (prompting everyone to put one on), Granet navigated out of the no-wake zone into the Gulf of Mexico and throttled up.

The bow lifted and the vessel, a boat that will be used as a pace boat during the race, surged forward.

Zooming past fishermen on Pier 60 and a parasailer floating by, he sped up to 80 miles per hour. But it felt much faster.

Granet will be going more than 100 mph faster in today's race when he pilots the Miss Geico, a 50-foot catamaran powered by twin jet turbine engines from Cobra attack helicopters (3,850 horsepower combined) that can go 213 mph.

The carbon fiber capsules have the same types of windows found in jets.

"A bird can hit them at 550 knots and they will not break,'' said Bob Teague, owner/throttleman of the Amsoil, another boat in Sunday's race.

Should there be a crash, there are escape hatches out the bottom.

But drivers don't worry about that.

"It's euphoric to go that fast,'' said John Haggin, Miss Geico team owner. "It's just dancing on top of the water.''

Said Granet, Miss Geico's pilot: "The Miss Geico is the space shuttle of race boats.''

Some of the most famous boats in the sport, including the big ones that are equipped with F-16 jet canopies, will compete for a $75,000 purse on the 5.3-mile course.

You can watch the competition for free from the beach between Pier 60 north to the Palm Pavilion restaurant.

Drivers will race from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

Because it might be difficult to find a parking space close to the beach, you may want to park in lots and garages in downtown Clearwater.

Then you should head to Coachman Park, where the Jolley Trolley and a couple of buses will make round trips all weekend. Rides are $1.

"This," race adviser Ray "Coach'' Pusillo said, "is going to take everybody's breath away.''

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Fast facts

Today's schedule

9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Race Village, Coachman Park.

10:45 a.m.: Boats of first race, parade to mill area.

11 a.m.: Start of first race, Clearwater Beach.

12:45 p.m.: Boats of second race, parade to mill area.

1 p.m.: Start of second race, Clearwater Beach.

5 p.m.: Awards presentation.

Super boats ready for Clearwater Super Boat Offshore National Championship and Festival 10/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 4, 2009 9:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  3. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  4. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  5. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990